Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

The Weight

Last week our SkyVision family suffered a tragic loss. One of our team members lost a child.

The details don’t matter. They never do when a parent loses a child. Nevertheless, in our modern times I do feel compelled to say that this tragedy did not involve either an overdose or suicide. Horrible misfortune, the bane of our species over the millennia, was the cause. Even in these days of extraordinary, sometimes miraculous medical care, sometimes the medicine doesn’t work and a parent loses a child.

There are so many occurrences that are labeled a tragedy, and some of them even are. But for my mind there is nothing as tragic as losing your child. It is such an unnatural occurrence, so dramatically counter to the expected course of life, that there is not a single language in the entire human race that has a word to describe a person who occupies the space of a parent who lost their child. One who loses their spouse is a widow or a widower. When both of your parents die you become an orphan. Having lost a child, though, does not give you a moniker in any language in the world.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. A friend has a sister who sits on the brink. Their parents are alive and in their ’80’s. Both would gladly trade places with their child. Think about it; even in your ’80’s with children in their ’60’s, you’re just not supposed to lose a child.

Years ago I went through a bit of time during which several acquaintances lost a child. Chatting with one who had since become a good friend, she described her life as thus: each morning you awaken, get out of bed, and pick up the weight of your loss. The weight changes day by day. Sometimes it is a bit lighter, but it is always there and it is always too much to bear.

It is a weight that you will carry for the rest of your life.

What is there for the rest of us to do? Indeed, is there anything that we can do? Experience tells me that the unfortunate answer is no. We cannot carry any of the weight. We will not, cannot understand what it means to have been cast over the abyss and into the black hole of such a loss. And yet we must try. We must look for even the smallest of chances to to help in any way. Sometimes what is requested is simply space. Space and time. As hard as it is to provide this we must be ever mindful that we do not, cannot know what the bearer of this loss needs and therefore to take them at their word. I don’t know what our friend at work will need. What they may want. If they will ask. Only that each of us will answer if given the chance.

So rare that the bearer of the weight doesn’t even have a name. May the rest of us never need to learn what that means.

I’ll see you next week…

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